Sunday, 3 February 2013

Ripper Street - The King Came Calling

We are now three episodes into Ripper Street and the fact that I am still watching and reviewing it despite my low attention span is a testament to just how good the show is.
My medical knowledge doesn’t run any deeper than the odd episode of Casualty so my scientifically challenged brain will not be able to question any potentially ridiculous medical jargon.
There are spoilers - consider yourselves warned.
PLOT:  The residents of Whitechapel are struck down with an illness bearing the likeness of cholera.  Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) and Drake (Jerome Flynn) join forces with Inspector Ressler (Patrick Baladi) in an attempt to prevent mass panic as the illness spreads into London City.  It is only after Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) finishes his autopsies do they realise that it isn’t cholera that is killing the victims – they have been poisoned.  The race against time to find the source of the poison and a cure becomes personal as Mrs Reid (Amanda Hale) starts to display symptoms of the illness.  END PLOT
In My Protection introduced us to the vigilantes that roamed the streets during Jack the Ripper’s murderous rampage  however the focus in The King Came Calling shifts to the poverty which runs throughout Whitechapel.
Reid is desperate to keep Whitechapel running as smoothly as possible and resists the urge to close the water pumps fearing that the residents will have no option but to turn to the river for their drinking water whereas Ressler’s main worry is losing out to New York if London’s trading is compromised.  The King Came Calling was a decent insight to the contrasting conditions and attitudes that the different areas of London had to contend with during this period.
The villain of the week, Claxon, (Simon Gregor) craves the fame and notoriety of Jack the Ripper and creates the poison with the sole purpose of getting his name in the papers.  Claxon's crime had absolutely nothing to do with Jack the Ripper but it showed that the Ripper's shadow hangs over everything that happens in Whitechapel.  Claxon's shrine to the Ripper was a chilling touch.
The relationship between Reid and Emily is developed further with Reid being inexplicably against Emily’s desire to open a refuge for troubled woman.  Amanda Hale gets a chance to show that there is more to Emily Reid than a grieving mother and has one of the episodes best lines - “I would do more with my life than sit by the fire in grief”.  It was initially unfortunate that Mrs Reid was reduced to a damsel in distress but by the end of the episode it had only strengthened her resolve to continue in her charity work. 
Matthew Macfadyen is as strong as ever whether he be sparring with Inspector Ressler or repressing his fears that Emily may die. 
Jerome Flynn is reduced to comic relief thanks to some slang phrases but is once again given very little to do - although Flynn has taken a back seat he isn't being overshadowed by the other cast members.  This shows just how good Flynn is.
Now that Jackson is well and truly part of the team we get to see him fully utilising the equipment of the Dead Room.  It is because of Jackson’s knowledge of the Marsh Test and other scientific methods that they realise what the poison is and how it is being spread by Claxon.  Adam Rothenberg gets some wonderful moments of dark comedy at the expense of young Hobbs during the autopsy of one of the larger victims.
We are three episodes in and I don’t think I have once mentioned Jonathan Barnwell who plays the young Constable Hobbs.  The main function of Barnwell’s character is to fetch and carry for the three leads but his innocence in such a dark setting would be greatly missed if he wasn’t there. 
The King Came Calling takes projectile vomiting to new levels.  It was uncomfortable to watch and I loved it!
There were unfortunately some glaringly obvious continuity errors with the scrapes on Ressler’s cheek switching from left to right several times during the third act of the episode.  This didn’t affect my enjoyment but from a show that is so well produced it isn’t acceptable. 
The King Came Calling is most definitely a filler episode as there is very little development of the three main characters.  It shows that even "villain of the week" episodes can be decent if they are well written.  The King Came Calling gets a 7.5/10.
Lines of the week:
Reid:  “If you will only come back to me I will tell you, I will tell you why I am the way I am and why I cannot mourn her like you do.  Please I will do anything”.  (Reid to Emily) Reid almost opens up to Emily and the audience but alas Reid breaking down over his daughter's apparent death will have to wait for another day.  Macfadyen is at his best when he emotionally tormented.
Drake:  “If you don’t know and I often don’t it's best not to ask” (Drake to Ressler).  Drake knows that he is not the brains of the team and isn’t ashamed to admit it.  There are quite a few moments when he can only stand and watch when Reid and Jackson talk forensics. 
Jackson: “I’d wager so brother” (Jackson to the dying Pimp George).  The exchange between Jackson and his dying patient is the best section of the episode with Jackson’s expression changing from compassion to anger when George begins confessing that he is a violent pimp.  It is almost cold that Jackson agrees that George is forsaken just as George takes his last breath.  Jackson lives in a whorehouse and has a casual attitude towards prostitution – his attitude to violence towards woman rang loud and clear.

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